Aaron Taylor, a CBS Sports Network college football analyst, was an All-America offensive lineman at Notre Dame in the early 1990s.
Though he and former Irish head coach Bob Davie weren’t there at the same time, they know each other well and have a cordial relationship.
One hopes, then, that Davie – now in his fifth year as head coach at New Mexico – can get past this comment Taylor made during Friday’s telecast of the Lobos’ 49-21 loss to Boise State.
“This is not a disciplined team,” Taylor said of UNM.
Actually, he said it more than once.
The subject at the time was penalties. The Lobos were flagged 12 times for a total of 88 yards. How much the penalties actually hurt is open to question, since unbeaten, 19th-ranked Boise State clearly was the superior team.
And the Lobos (2-3 overall, 1-1 in Mountain West Conference play), even considering the caliber of the opposition, have more serious problems to address.
In no phase of the game did they look like a disciplined team.
There was the defense that gave up 368 yards passing – in the first half.
New Mexico’s blitz never reached Bronco quarterback Brett Rypien. When the Lobos rushed three or four and played zone defense in the secondary, they fared little better.
“It’s a difficult situation,” Davie said, “when it really doesn’t matter (to the opposition) if it’s man or zone.”
Rypien and backup Thomas Stuart threw 30 passes but were never sacked and rarely pressured.
“They had a good scheme coming in,” UNM senior linebacker Dakota Cox said. “They were able to shut us down in max protection, seven guys blocking seven guys.”
The Lobos may not again face a passing attack like Boise State’s, with Rypien (21 of 28, 391 yards, five touchdowns) throwing to skilled and talented receivers like Thomas Sperbeck (nine catches, 198 yards two touchdowns) and Cedrick Wilson (nine catches, 167 yards, three TDs).
They surely will face similar schemes, until they figure out how to combat them.
Nor did the UNM defense produce a turnover. The Lobos had four in last year’s memorable upset of the Broncos in Boise, Idaho.
There was the offense that, despite rushing for 382 yards, managed just seven points until midway through the fourth quarter.
Junior quarterback Lamar Jordan rushed for 139 yards but passed for only 39. Partly as a result, UNM was 6-for-16 on third-down conversions.
“You can kind of put this game on me,” Jordan, disconsolate, said afterward. “I know I have to throw better.”
Davie cited the absence of star running back Teriyon Gipson (hamstring) and senior quarterback Austin Apodaca, who started UNM’s first three games before suffering a collarbone injury Sept. 17 at Rutgers.
Without them, Davie said, the chances of matching Boise State touchdown for touchdown were remote.
“It was gonna have to be something where we matched scores with them, quite honestly, and we weren’t that kind of team tonight,” Davie said.
Then, there were the penalties. None of them, perhaps, were crucial. But one could say face-mask penalties against cornerback Isaiah Brown and safety Daniel Henry, two plays apart on Boise State’s first scoring drive, may have set the tone for the evening.
The Lobos were flagged for 16 penalties last year against Boise State, yet still won. But UNM has incurred 27 penalties in its last three games, and Davie said the trend must be reversed.
“We’ve looked a little sloppy, so absolutely it has to be (corrected),” he said.
Once again allowing for the caliber of the opposition, it seems a lot of things do.